#FigDigConf: An Audience With The Chair

by Gillian Ingram Figaro Digital

As the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference draws tantalisingly closer, we caught up with our conference chair, Pete Ward, CEO and Co-Founder of WAYN (part of lastminute.com Group) to discuss the four pillars holding up the vast collection of diverse and exciting content in store. This year’s summer conference has been built around the key themes of Transformation, Innovation, Contextualisation, and Customer Experience – all key talking points in the ongoing adventure to bring digital further into the human sphere. So what does our chair have to say about these expansive topics?


“Transformation isn’t a new thing, if anything, transformation is being replaced by disruption – and disruption is becoming a dirty word,” says Ward. “The first step is figuring out what problem you’re trying to solve and why.” Having a clear goal set out for the product will define the key decisions that marketers need to make to move forwards. Michel Koch’s session “Growing Through Self-Disruption” will be fantastic for brands mature or new to outline what this change needs to be. Marketers looking to gain improved insights from customer data, or step up their automation capabilities, should define the parameters of these goals before looking to partner with agencies or technology providers. “Once you understand what problems you’re trying to solve, you’re free to ask questions like: ‘What capabilities do I need; what do I currently not have access to, and where do I go from there?’”. Speaking at the conference, Choice Hotels’ European Director of Marketing, Tess Mattisson, will be giving an honest account of the partnership and structural changes she has orchestrated throughout the hotel chain’s digital transformation, to enhance its customer experience.

Ward also reminds us that it might be easy to get carried away when it comes to transforming your digital offer. “Know what success looks like. What are the KPIS you need to track success? The unit economics are really important, and this is another big part of the puzzle that most people forget. It’s really important to understand what your key measures of success are, whether it be cost per visit, cost per view, engagement and so on, and then translating that into value; both value per visit, and value per customer.”


The tools and tactics available for marketers to extend their reach through digital are numerous, but one area which has been gaining a lot of attention over recent months is programmatic buying. So what options does programmatic present to marketers to better leverage their content through paid exposure? “Programmatic is a very powerful tool, because it essentially uses data, pixels, or cookies on various websites to be able to track, segment and target users, not just on your website, but on the entire world wide web,” says Ward. “But in order for brands to leverage their content through paid media and boost their reach, the first thing they need to do is have good content in the first place. It sounds obvious, but if you don’t have good content, it’s not going to perform. It needs to be unique, compelling, and aligned to the brand and purpose. If it’s not linked and communicating what you’re about, it’s just going to send the customer in the wrong direction.” Jonathan McCauley-Oliver, Digital Revenue Manager at National Rail, will share the vital steps brands should take to make sure that their programmatic strategy is fully aligned with both business aims and customer expectations, taking ownership of their content and the persona it portrays online.

Another capability which is a high priority for brands looking to innovate in this space is the need for real-time analysis and understanding. Being fully aware of industry news, events relating to a brand’s product, and the campaigns of its competitors enables marketers to coordinate exposure within the customer journey in an unobtrusive and valuable way. Social listening gives brands the opportunity to do just that, in a way that directly relates to their brand aims. “What are people talking about right now? How can you leverage both your existing content as well as new work that can appeal to those trends? There are a number of sites that you can use for that; Facebook, Twitter, or other social listening tools like Hootsuite, talkwalker or Unmetric.”Pret A Manger is a brilliant example of exemplary social listening, regularly incorporating customer feedback into its product development. Anthony Leung, Social Media Manager at Pret will share how the brand has used this valuable resource in the creation of the extremely popular Veggie Pret.

The process of digital innovation requires constant revision and regeneration to ensure that marketers are not missing any tricks. “Test, test and test,” says Ward. “That’s where tech such as AI or machine learning algorithms can help, because then you can start optimising algorithmically based on performance. And that’s the bit of paid which is really quite exciting, if you can automate the process of keyword targeting, it can be a massive opportunity.” By staying well-informed of how content is performing across your platforms and where those results are in relation to your goals, marketers can make informed decisions on where and how to increase their tech stack with the multitude of technology solutions available. At the conference, Emarsys and Phrasee will share how marketers can start using AI right now, and provide advice on how to get their business ready for the next technological revolution.


Brands are constantly seeking to better contextualise their relationship with the consumer, and to use this context to improve their product. “Personalisation is ultimately the end point of what context gives you through data,” continues Ward. Being able to look at a customer journey and apply those insights to a real, emotional human thought process is the evolution that will set your brand apart – provided it’s not done in a creepy way. Find out what Christopher Baldwin, Head of Marketing at Selligent, has to say on communicating with the digital natives, and what he thinks brands should be offering to increase engagement from this savvy network of consumers.

Recognising a customer’s thought process and being able to offer an appropriate solution really goes above and beyond what many consumers may expect from your brand; this element of surprise and delight can help to earn loyalty from your customers. Brands can offer better deals, pre-empt exclusive offers for the customer based on their preferences, or suggest valuable, personalised content to make that transactional process seamless. “If you do it in the right way, you can use data to really show that you understand the customer’s needs, and give that ‘wow!’ factor. Technology and data are enabling that level of personalisation, and you can even automate that, to the point where people can have their enquiries answered by a chatbot, which can determine what’s being asked and offer an appropriate solution.” “The Story Behind Every Email Click ”, a presentation by Robert Simons, Group Head of CRM at Treatwell, will reveal how the brand has used an awareness of its market and agile strategy to improve conversion rates with some simple tools and a campaign calendar.

Customer Experience

“The companies that are truly successful in this world are the ones that have the ‘why’ sussed as well as the ‘what’” says Ward. Tapping into deeper customer desires is what separates brands who offer a service, with brands who offer an aspiration. Ward offers Apple as an example. “Apple users could always find a cheaper product, but they don’t. It’s still just a computer or a phone or a piece of kit, but it’s using that psychology to understand customers’ needs in a different way.” Savannah Sachs, UK Managing Director of Birchbox, will reveal how the beauty retailer has formed a dedicated and engaged consumer base – the Beauty Majority – by offering a carefully crafted experience that valued the individual user.

Apple enjoys impressive levels of customer loyalty from its dedicated community of consumers, and it leverages that emotional connection to nurture an aspirational brand persona. “Technology often acts as an enabler to this, but it’s not the only part.  When it comes to customer experience, the most important step is to understand what the customer journey is. By breaking that down to its component parts, marketers can cater for the customer’s needs at each point, and exceed their expectations.” Nick Joy, Social Media Manager at LV=, chatted to Figaro Digital about how brands can make relevant connections with consumers, and offer valuable experiences that help to drive engagement. He will be also speak on LV=’s use of advanced social media targeting to provide great added value for its customers.

To hear more from Pete Ward and our fantastic speaker line up, and to chew over the thrills and spills of these four vital pillars, join us at the Figaro Digital Summer Marketing Conference. You can view the full line up and programme here.